Swiss research system
The Swiss research system adheres to the principles of autonomy, academic freedom and scientific excellence. Global rankings reflect the quality of Swiss universities having them appear among the world-leading institutions. The publications of Swiss researchers themselves reach a high impact above average especially in natural sciences, life sciences and engineering. The academic workforce of Swiss institutions is highly international (more than half from abroad), and more than a third of researchers with a Swiss passport work abroad. The Swiss research system therefore substantially contributes to international brain circulation.
The main research funding body in Switzerland is the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). With a yearly budget of above CHF 1 billion, its funding policy mostly focuses on curiosity-driven research and the promotion of young academics. Thematic National Research Programmes amount to only a quarter of SNSF's annual spending. The SNSF is well integrated in the European Research Area through participation in numerous partnerships. Research in Switzerland is mostly carried out within the ten cantonal universities, the two Federal Institutes of Technology – the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) - as well as in the four research institutes of the ETH domain. The nine Universities of Applied Sciences also play an increasing role in research.
Switzerland is fully associated to the eight Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020 (H2020). Swiss participation is strongest in the curiosity-driven instruments such as the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Curie Actions. The thematic areas with above than average Swiss participation are Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), life sciences and nano-technologies, materials, biotechnologies and production technologies (NMBP). In 2018, Switzerland was the 8th most successful country in H2020 in terms of total funding received, with 3.5% of the total H2020 grant sum and the associated country most involved in the Framework Programme.
Advice and support to participation in European research and innovation programmes is carried out by SwissCore's partner Euresearch, which is a country-wide network linking a Head Office hosting the National Contact Points (NCP) with ten Regional Support offices at local universities.
The Swiss Confederation has expressed its interest to associate to the ninth Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, starting in 2021. A respective dispatch for EU research and innovation has been passed to the Swiss Parliament by the Federal Council in May 2020.